Robot 6

Six by 6 | Six x-rated comics you can read without shame

Small Favors Vol. 1

Dirty comics have been around almost as long as the medium itself. No doubt a few years after the Yellow Kid first appeared, some wiseacre created a Tijuana Bible of him getting busy with Buster Brown’s mom.

Sadly, most of the sex comics produced over the years are awful, dreary affairs — works that either feature abysmal art and writing or indulge in such ugly stereotypes (or both), so that you feel ashamed for all the people involved, including yourself for having read the thing.

But there are a few gems amidst the x-rated dross. Below are six smut-laden books that, while you may not want to be caught reading them on the bus, can proudly display on your bookshelf without embarrassment.

I had a couple of self-imposed rules with this one. First of all, the comic had to be sexually explicit. Second, it had to be primarily designed to titillate the reader, thus nixing darker, serious work like Phoebe Gloeckner’s A Child’s Life.

Also, I’m sure there are plenty of books I’m forgetting about (catering to my own tastes, there’s a focus on heterosexual fare here), so feel free to mention your own particular favorites in the comments section. You naughty thing you.

Finally, while I’ve tried to keep everything below the jump relatively safe for work, I can’t promise that all the links will be PG-rated, so caveat emptor.

1) Small Favors by Colleen Coover. Before she started doing kid-friendly work for Marvel, Colleen Coover made her reputation with Small Favors, a lesbian sex comic that’s most notable feature is how gosh-darned cute it is. Seriously, the most amazing thing about the book is that it manages to be rather filthy and yet utterly adorable at the same time. It’s the easily the most endearing porn comic you’ll ever encounter. The good news is Top Shelf is planning on publishing an omnibus collection of the series, so you can feel the x-rated wuv all over again.

Birdland

2) Birdland by Gilbert Hernandez. Let’s be honest here. Most of Eros Comix’s output has been awful to put it mildly. Not so with Birdland, one of the initial stars in the line’s stable, and easily one of the most freewheeling, genuinely goofy works Beto has ever produced, which is saying something. A riotous, hardcore affair involving space aliens, time travel, magic lockets, gender bending and just about every character in the cast getting down and dirty with every other member, with little shame or bad feelings involved. Hernandez would later work many of these characters, most notably the sisters Fritz and Petra, into the main storyline of his Palomar/Luba work, with a decidedly more realistic and occasionally grimmer results. As much as I like those stories, part of me kind of prefers the carefree, upbeat versions portrayed here.

3) Maka-Maka by Kishi Torajiro. Maka-Maka is one of those rare x-rated manga that doesn’t involve tentacles, rape, schoolgirls or annoying gender stereotypes. What Maka-Maka does have is even rarer: an honest, insightful portrayal of a romantic relationship, in this case between two close female friends who slowly starts to get more serious and involved over time. The irony is that they see their sexual relationship as just fun and games and continue to pursue a number of bad relationships with men even though they clearly are in love and belong together. Though it was originally serialized in a men’s magazine, Maka-Maka is anything but exploitative. Indeed, it’s written with a good deal of sensitivity for its characters and their relationship that makes the sex scenes all the more intense and meaningful.

Niplez n Tum Tum

4) Nipplez ‘n’ Tum Tum by Mary Fleener. Imagine if Betty and Veronica were more jaded, street savvy, took recreational drugs and got laid a lot more often and you have a basic idea of what Nipples ‘n’ Tum Tum is like. After initially appearing in the second volume of Fantagraphics Dirty Stories anthology, Fleener put out one issue starring the lusty pair through Eros Comix. It’s a rather funny, sex positive affair involving rock star poseurs, lesbian drug dealers and uber-cute boys that ends with the girls getting the upper hand, as per their wont. Overall it’s a really funny, smart comic filled with Fleener’s great, cartoony-cubist art (especially during the more intense sex scenes; no one draws an orgasm like Fleener). One wishes she had tried to keep the comic going for awhile longer. It deserved a longer shelf life than it ultimately got.

5) Chester 5000 by Jess Fink. Notice that a lot of the comics on this list are by women? That seems to be a growing trend these days, as more and more female cartoonists have said “damn propriety” and started drawing pictures of naked people doin’ it. It’s a welcome trend overall, especially when the results run towards something like Fink’s Chester 5000, a sweaty steampunk porn romance involving an inventor, his well-equipped robotic creation and the neglected wife who finds a new bedtime companion in the metal man. Like Small Favors and Maka-Maka, Chester manages to offer a bit of sweetness and warmth amidst all the commingling of genitals, making it an easy choice for inclusion on this list. Top Shelf (which is quickly becoming the go-to company for tasteful porn) will be offering a print collection next year.

6) XXXenophile by Phil Foglio. But of course you eventually return to the classics. After Omaha the Cat Dancer, Foglio’s hot and heavy collection of short story erotica is probably one of the best known and beloved sex comics from the 80s and 90s — or at the very least it didn’t make people scrunch up their noses in disgust when they read it. Frequently delving into the realms of fantasy and sci-fi, the series won acclaim for its playful, positive attitude. Foglio has famously  said he won’t do any more erotica while he’s still on his kids’ PTA board, but you can still get .pdf copies of the comics online (check that last link).

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Comments

38 Comments

And here, i was hoping for some Black Kiss lovin’ . Does play around with stereotypes a little much, but still a damned good read by Chaykin.

Where’s “Crack Whore,” Mautner?

I on the other hand am glad to see r6 spotlight some great dirty stories without mentioning a comic everyone knows about.

I’d like to bring up I Want To Be Your Dog by Ho Che Anderson. One of the most sincere pieces of smut I have ever read. Not to mention the art is amazing. I think its going to rereleased soon in a DEE-luxe edition. I can’t wait.

Kishi Torajiro is a man. Not that I’m saying you called him a woman or anything, it’s that Japanese names can be tricky if you don’t know em.

I enjoyed, for lack of a better word, the Young Witches series that Eros released years ago. It was kinda nuts and the art wasn’t bad at all.

Stuff — I do know Torajiro is a man. Sorry if I wasn’t clear on that front.

Tom — Sadly, I have not yet been able to enjoy the erudite pleasures of said comic. I have little doubt, however, that it is a transportive reading experience.

Mpayne — Correct me if I’m wrong, but I recall Black Kiss not actually being that explicit, at least not visually (i.e. no penetration), which would keep it off this list.

Pants — I haven’t read Dog, but I’ve heard good things about it.

Johnny — Ah yes, the pleasures of Mssr. Solano Lopez. He’s quite the saucy lad.

Molly Kiel does work of a kind with the Fleener and Coover works mentioned here. Two sex comics from more established alt-comics guys that their fans would probably like are Cynthia Petal’s Really Fantastic Alien Sex Frenzy from Dave Cooper (a one-shot) and Cannibal Porn from Rich Tommaso (a short series).

For more selective joys, the art in Frank Thorne’s late-period straight-up porn work *looks* amazing panel-to-panel, although the stories lose me immediately. Jeff Johnson’s (the alt-comics one) story in the first Dirty Stories, starring the Beagle Boys and Drew Barrymore, comes from a scary place where very few cartoonists — very few human beings — dare tread. And of the Young Witches stuff, it’s Young Witches 2 that’s the jaw-dropper, I think.

There seems to be a lot of lesbian content in this “heterosexual” smut list. I guess that shouldn’t be a suprise, given that the hetero male fantasy image of lesbian sex seems to be such a turn on for Tom, Dick & Harry…

Birdland has some nice polysexual space orgy scenes, which was a pleasant suprise to me when I first read it. It’s incredibly rare to see images of two men having sex from a straight cartoonist and I love Hernandez to this day for including it in his wacked out sex comedy.

Chris, it’s interesting that you didn’t include Lost Girls, which is surely the high-brow, non-bookshelf-shaming porn comic of the last decade (and maybe any decade?). I’m certainly not complaining that you didn’t pick it, just wondering why.

The Ugly American

November 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Probably because it feels “wrong” to crank out a salty to LOST GIRLS.

Or more likely everyone knows about it.

If you want classy, just check out the new Guido Crepax stuff from NBM.

Ok I usually don’t read smut but I have to ask were is Lost Girls or Crying Freeman neither of these should ever be forgotten from a list this kind it makes the writer look like he only reads books that don’t make money

I’d be remiss not to plug my own books…

I’m Dale Lazarov, writer/editor of chic hardcovers of gay comics filth published by Bruno Gmünder Verlag:

STICKY (drawn by Steve MacIsaac) http://www.amazon.com/Sticky-Dale-Lazarov/dp/3861879719/ ,

MANLY (drawn by Amy Colburn) http://www.amazon.com/Manly-Dale-Lazarov/dp/3861878879/ ,

and, NIGHTLIFE drawn by Bastian Jonsson) http://www.amazon.com/Nightlife-Dale-Lazarov/dp/3867870446/ ,

collections of gay erotic comics that Gay Vox, among others, have called “the best gay erotica comics ever”. :)

My next one should come out in 2012…

Thanks for mentioning Crying Freeman, Phillip. Definitely an overlooked classic in the adult/mature readers genre of graphic fiction. And this list really should be called “Six x-rated comics you can read not named Lost Girls.” :)

Icarus Comics and Eros both have published some nice erotic manga that doesn’t feature tentacles/rape/etc. such as Blue Eyes, Love Selection, PInk Sniper, and Scarlet Desire.

Richard Moore, creator of Boneyard and Far West, has done some nice smut comics, which NBM collected in the Horny Tails and Short Strokes collections.

And the Noe collections that NBM has published have all been fun erotic comics as well.

I enjoyed Ironwood, especially for the art (Bill Willingham of Fables fame). Don’t remember the story much (it’s been a long time since I’ve even looked at it), but I do remember that it was VERY loosely tied into the Elementals comic from Comico.

I’m quite intrigued. I may have to pick those up – though I’m surprised that Omaha the Cat Dancer didn’t make that list.

-”LOST GIRLS” by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

-The ‘Guissepe Bergman’ books by Milo Manara

-”SKIN TIGHT ORBIT, v.1 and 2″ by Elaine Lee

-”STUCK RUBBER BABY” by Howard Cruse

-”SIN METAL SIRENS” by Sandra Chang

Yep – also surprised Omaha didn’t make it. Fine comic – good stories, art & funny at times.
There was also a comic version of Debbie Does Dallas a few years back. The initial art was fairly ordinary, but after about issue 3-4, it became exceptionally good. That is one comic that should be collected in tpb.

I’m surprised we didn’t see Lost Girls on the list.

Reginald VelJohnson

November 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I’m Reginald VelJohnson.

Matthew Southworth

November 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I’m a big fan of Ignacio Noe’s work lately; he does some pretty silly but totally entertaining porn comics, like THE PIN-UP ARTIST and THE PIANO TUNER. Beautiful, beautiful figures and colors, and the stories are fun.

I’d have to question whether BLACK KISS isn’t explicit, by the way. There are a lot of stiff members and (ahem) money shots in that book. And it’s pretty nifty.

Matthew Southworth

November 14, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Oh yeah–there’s a really, really good book out called FIRST TIME, which is about the creators’ first sexual experiences. It includes great work by Dave McKean and others and is awesome.

Moebius has done a bunch of great porn stuff, too, now that I think of it.

Every week, I go buy my new comics, and I always check out the adult section, but it’s awful hard to find good smutty comics. Thank god for Gilbert Hernandez!

Hello Reginald!

I went back and forth a number of times on Lost Girls and Omaha. I almost included them several times but instead opted to go for some lesser known works, though one could argue that both Small Favors and XXXenophile are pretty obvious picks. Oh well …

How in the hell is STUCK RUBBER BABY X-rated?!!?!

Patrick Hultquist

November 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I can’t believe Cherry Comics (nee Cherry Poptart) didn’t make the list. It had some damning social commentary by Larry Welz and was still pretty smutty.

What about that short-lived series STRIPS by Chuck Austin? I think there were only 3 issues published

@Tom: Actually, STRIPS ran at least 12 issues. Issues 1-9 came out between 1989 and 1991, then it came out with 10-12 in 1997.

XXXenophiles features a scene where a woman is fucked by an Alsatian, why doesn’t that make people “scrunch up their noses in disgust”?

Sexually explicit…primarily titillating…hetero…I can’t believe no-one’s mentioned Druuna.

And +1 to Lost Girls.

you must have never read “wendy whitebread undercover slut” and no list of x-rated comics is complete without garth ennis’ “the pro”

Bill Willinghams Ironwood was amazing! It was also collected by Eros.

I certainly wouldn’t consider Stuck Rubber Baby to be pornographic. The simple depiction of sexual activity doesn’t make it pornographic, it’s the specificity of sexual activity that makes it pornographic.

Lots of good stuff on the list and in the comments. Not mentioned is the collection Vellevision by Maurice Vellekoop, published by Drawn & Quarterly. It’s got plenty of good x-rated shorts that would appeal to many audiences. Great artwork, too.

I’d always secretly hopes that Jaime would follow Beto in doing a good porn comic.

Stuck Rubber Baby doesn’t have anything remotely like explicit, pornographic sex in it. It actually stuck out from some of Cruze’s earlier work in its far tamer approach to sex and nudity. It’s also very, very much the kind of serious work that is about more than sex (faaaar more than just sex) that our host has explicitly chosen to exclude.

The Pro also doesn’t really have any explicit, drawn-in-the-panel sex in it, altho it’s super smutty and has sex and nudity in it.

Crying Freeman is an interesting choice. I don’t have every volume, but I have maybe two thirds of the whole shebang? And in what I have, there IS actual, drawn-in-the-panel sex… but it’s contact/penetration by empty space! There are no genitals actually depicted in the panels in which sex is actually shown! And when genitals Do appear — “at rest” — they do so in somewhat obscured depictions or, in the case of the maler of the two naughty bits choices, totally black and generally-shaped silhouette.

Matthew

Strips is a really interesting series. Not so much because it is very good (which it isn’t), but for all the torment going on in the artist’s mind that spilled out into the story and especially into the letters column. It starts out as a light-hearted college sex-romp in a cartoony style and ends bitter, complicated, and completely lacking in fun in a much more serious style. You could write a dissertation on how the series is meant to mirror the average person’s experience with sex, or Beckum/Austen’s, or all sorts of things.

Strips was one of the few porn books I kept when I radically purged my collection a while back – it was very well done, and would probably have worked better as a relationship book with a few sex scenes instead of a book that required at least two big sex scenes per issue.

Small Favors is THE best porn book I’ve ever encountered, and primarily because it is simultaneously filthy and cute.

Ironwood was also quite well done, but also suffered from the fact that you could tell that Willingham was more interested in the story and had to *ahem* insert the sex scenes in to justify it as a porn book. In many ways it was a dry run for some of what he’s since done in Fables.

Was it Roberta Gregory who did “Artistic Licentiousness?” that was a nice, grounded sexual series – very different in tone from her Bitchy Bitch work what was coming out at the same time.

ive enjoyed some of the books mentioned here (ironwood, black kiss, crying freeman). im nominating faust:love of the damned. sexually explicit and beautiful artwork by tim vigil. may not be high brow, but one of my favorites since i picked it up while in high school.

el_caifan

A “heterosexual” list? Where?

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